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Olufisayo Bamidele
Olufisayo Bamidele

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Hot Take: You Burnt Out, and It Was Your Fault

So many blog posts have people ranting about how toxic their workplaces are. While it is true that some workplaces are unhealthy, a lot of times, it's all on you. The following are some of the reasons why you might be burning out.

1. You need to be more skilled for your current role.

You've worked 80 hours a week for six months and are very sleep-deprived. The circles around your eyes are now as dark burnt offerings, and your eye bags look like they will burst any moment from now. You hate your job so much that you get a panic attack each time you open your laptop. While it is easy to blame your employer, have you tried reflecting to understand why you're spending so much time trying to hit your deadline? It might be hard to be objective in these situations, but the following are some markers for skill issues.

A. How often do you google while on a task?
B. How often do you have to go on YouTube to watch tutorials during a task?
C. How often do you have to return to fix bugs after deploying a feature?
D. How many cycles of reviews do your pull requests go through?
E. How often and by how far do you miss your estimates?

If the answer to most of those questions is "very frequently," you have skill issues.

So what should you do in this situation? Well, you have two options.
a. Hustle it out.
b. Find another job at your skill level.

I'll always go for the first option because that's where fast growth happens.

2. You chose the wrong job.

The problem mentioned above comes in two folds.

i. Software engineering is generally not for you.

Saying that software engineering isn't for you doesn't mean you aren't smart; I say that the same way I would say that Medicine, Law, Accounting, and Astrophysics as career choices are not meant for everyone.

What have you heard from motivational speakers? Software engineering is easy? Hahaha... Yes, Compared to other career choices, software engineering has a low barrier to entry. It's one of the few lines of work you can spend six months learning, then start making an A-OK money.

Despite the low barrier to entry, Software Engineering is one of the professions difficult to master. It is still evolving, and things change very fast. That is where the hardship lies. Trying to master the field is like trying to hit a moving target. It's possible, but takes more intention, determination, and focus. It is even more challenging when your foundation is not strong.

If you can relate to the above, hang in there until you make enough money to fund the profession/hobby of your choice. By having this mindset, you have assigned a purpose to your suffering. With a little "sprinkle of purpose," everything becomes more manageable. I know it sucks, but that's life generally.

ii. You love Software Engineering, but you don't get to work on the kind of project you want.

Oh! You won't like this take, but I'll say it anyway. Get a pet project that you love.

Even if you land a job in your dream company, you'd only sometimes be on the projects you like to work on. Whoever is paying your salary is paying you to get some work done, and you signed a contract to deliver. Your job is not a hobby. Find an open-source project that you're passionate about and start contributing. Build prototype projects that allow you to learn concepts you're curious about and stay curious.

Final Notes:

This article aims to get people thinking about what they might be doing wrong rather than blaming others for their feelings. Sometimes, employers might be toxic, but more often than not, you simply hate your job either because you're not well equipped for it or you're just working on the wrong type of project.

Edit Thu. 12 Oct 2023

People also attribute overworking to burnout; This is nothing but a half-truth. I know people who can spend three days on a couch playing COD. They eventually get tired and retire to bed but don't wake up feeling burnt out the next day. It all goes back to hating what you do due to a lack of skill or interest.

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